Skiing Terminology 101

Starting out skiing from the ski basics is very difficult, especially when you cannot understand the very basics of what you are being told. Having to learn all the new moves, types of skiing, posture and footwork along with the more social aspects of where to go and where not to go dependent on your ski style can all seem daunting. It already seems like a lot to take in and that is before having to learn the terminology so that you can learn these skills, so for that reason we have brought you a small guide to the basics of skiing terminology.

Skiing Movement

Movement Terminology

Movement terminology is very important when it comes to speaking to your ski instructors or skiing partners simply as without it you could struggle significantly in letting them know exactly what is it you mean when you explain things.
When you are skiing and you make a “biff”, it simply means to fall and get back up again quickly. It is said if on your fall you tried to get up as fast as possible in an attempt to make sure nobody seen you falling.


Carving is a term used to describe a type of turn on the slope. As you come down the slope and make a turn, your ski may accidently or purposely cut the snow due to your turning angle. This cut then replicates the smoothness of your turn. This is as an unsmooth turn leaves a messy cut with lots of debris where as a smooth turn leaves a nice clean cut in the surface of the snow with little debris.

Carving is not something that happens a lot to skiers in comparison to snowboarders, as the wideness and nature of a snowboard means it is much more likely to head into the ground than a ski.


Cruising is a term used for a wide turn done in the snow. Heading down a slope or run at high speed means that your turn will usually push you and your turn will grow very wide. This prevents carving the turn and allows you to maintain a high speed down the run, which is called cruising. Cruising is usually done in a race environment or if you are trying to simply see how fast you can go and you tend not to learn much about it until you are at a suitable level with your ski instructors. Simply as going this fast at an early stage may cause you to feel frightened or lose balance.

Patroller Turns

Patroller turns are very short turns which see you move down steep slopes without losing your balance, as you finish a turn you thrust your outside heel down and in turn begin to spin around heading side to side down the slope and in turn not picking up to much speed before not being able to slop at the bottom. This sort of decent usually needs to be done in thick powder or snow to be able to have some form of lip on the snow to prevent you from slipping, although a lot of high level skiers can perform this action with little to no depth on the snow or powder.

180, 360, 540, 720 & 1080

These are common phrases your hear once you have been skiing for more than one season and simply tell you the turn somebody made in mid are in degrees. Arial spins in skiing are measured in degrees, as many tricks require people to land and ski backwards as a finish to a set, especially on terrain parks. Therefore, when somebody does an aerial spin you will hear it measured in degrees to be able to avoid any confusion.

Types of Skiing

Apres Ski

The different types of skiing can be hard to learn, so we have brought you the most common terms used by skiers to describe the mainstream ski styles and methods.

Alpine Ski

Alpine ski is the simple terminology used for the most common type of skiing. If you are using a ski lift to head up to the top of a slope before descending and repeating the process again on the same or a different slope, you are alpine skiing.

Apres ski

Although people seem to associate skiing with après ski, they are in fact completely different in a number of ways. Après ski is simply the life style that skiing offers and more importantly the social side. Everything from the bars and restaurants on the slopes to the nightlife in the resorts all comes together to form après ski. In turn, if people say they are going après skiing instead of alpine skiing, it is usually just another way of saying they are going to a ski resort for the social benefits rather than to ski.


A freerider is a loosely used term in America and Europe to simply mean anybody who prefers to ski off piste or in the backcountry. The majority of the time when it is used in conversation however, it will be in the context of “freeriding”, which loosely means the exact same as off piste skiing or back country skiing.


Zorb is often a term used in the more popular ski resorts and is actually simply an activity. Zorb is where you get inside a large shock proof inflatable ball and you’re pushed or shot down a ski run, a lot of the time the zorb runs will be in a half pipe shape to avoid you rolling off piste and in turn allowing it to be completely safe.

It usually happens on a completely restricted slope and in turn, you are usually not allowed to head down this slope on a board or ski’s in case you accidently carve or damage the slopes making it bumpy.

General Terminology

General Skiing Terms

This is the general terminology that many people use throughout the slopes whether they are an instructor or not. This usually comprises of your family, friends and even the staff of the resort.


An “avie” is simply a short-term reference to an avalanche; this is commonly used in the Australian and American ski resorts but is not as heard of in the European ski resorts.


This is a hole in the snow caused by a poor or bad landing on behalf of the skier. When you are skiing and come to a jump, it is important to be able to maintain a position of control both on your way into the jump, during the jump and during your landing. Failure to maintain this control will more often than not result in a bomb hole.

A bomb hole its self is simply where you have hit the ground to hard and on the wrong angle creating a hole. This is usually due to your skis or board carving snow out of the ground or simply due to the force of your landing in powder snow.


This term is a term used to be able to describe chopped up powder and in turn it a hybrid of the two words. The simply phrases its self is used to describe a ruined slope that has been home to a low of bombs and carving and in turn makes for bad skiing.

Powder slopes are easily susceptible to damage and in turn when you are skiing, you can easily cut open a section of powder and cause a lot of debris. When a section of the slope has a high level of cuts and damages, it quickly becomes difficult or unfriendly to a range of skiers who would rather look for fresher slopes elsewhere and in turn becomes chowder. It is most commonly used on terrain parks when the ramps become warn before they have been serviced.

If you have any more questions about something your heard whilst skiing and you are not sure what it means, why not tweet us at @thesnoqueen for the answers.